The first day I set foot inside the Sangatte Refugee Camp, I knew I wouldn’t be staying there for long. As I walked through the long, dark, narrow corridor I could see worried, distraught faces talking to people in the next room to them. They looked miserable, as if they were thinking the same as me. They didn’t want to be here. I had been sent here from Iraq. The war was at its worst. People dying every second. The noise was terrifying; bomb blasts and gun shots filled the air. One night as I lay in bed I had an awful feeling that something was wrong.
Suddenly there was an almighty roar. There was a huge blast as a bomb soared straight through the sky and landed directly into next doors house. The noise was unbearable. I had to get out of here and fast. I ran into my mum’s room to find her cuddling my frightened sister. We had to leave. It wasn’t safe anymore. There was an aid worker called Sophie staying down the road. She had told me if I was ever in trouble or needed help to go to her. She had also taken a great liking to my little sister Sikita. Sophie worked for the Red Cross and I liked her a lot.
I left my home with my mum and sister and started to walk down the road as I walked I heard a second blast, it was louder than the first one and as I turned around I saw to my horror it was my house that had been bombed, my mother was in tears. We were now homeless. My pace quickened and I found myself beginning to run. When I got to the shelter where Sophie was staying I found her and explained what had happened. She let us stay with her for the night. When I awoke the next morning the night before was a blur it was as if a thick fog had cast over my memory.
Sophie told us that she was taking people to a refugee camp where we could stay until it was safe in our town. We were leaving today. They were flying us from Iraq to France. There were times on the journey I sat and thought to myself. I thought about many things, What was my future going to be like now? Where would we stay? Would we ever return to the place I called home? All questions, that remained unanswered. We arrived at the Sangatte Refugee Camp in the afternoon of the next day. This is when it all became real to me for the first time in three days.
As I walked up the long, dark, dank corridor I had an instinctive feeling I wasn’t going to be here for long. I didn’t feel happy here. The misery on peoples’ faces shone. Even though they were trying their best to conceal it, it didn’t work. They looked distraught and homesick. That’s when I realised I wasn’t the only person longing to go home. In the next two weeks that followed lots of people tried to escape. They were always found. They never gave up they were determined to get into Britain. They thought of Britain as a place to start afresh and have a better life. It was the new Promised Land.
I kept myself to myself for a long time. One night a lad from the next room to me stopped me in the corridor. “You are sad”, he whispered. “More than anyone here, I can see it in your eyes, you need to go, try it, it’s your only chance of happiness. “What do you mean? ” I replied. “Me and my friends are leaving”, he answered. “Tomorrow night at midnight, the workers go to sleep, it is our chance now. There is a fence outside the camp next to a train terminal we must hide in the woods and when the guards change we run, straight through the terminal and into the tunnel. It’s our only hope.
I lay awake all night that night. Considering the offer I had just been given. In the end I thought I could give it a go. If it didn’t work I would return. If you got caught you got sent back to camp anyway. My sister and mother woke early the next morning. I did not sleep at all. When they had dressed I explained what we were going to do that night. My mother thought the idea silly at first but once she had thought it through she agreed she would rather be free in Britain than get sent back to Iraq and be homeless in a place filled with illness and poverty from the aftermath of war.
I saw the same man the next day the people we were escaping with had done it time and time again but never succeeded. All we had to do was follow them and carry out their instructions. They had people waiting for us in Britain. At midnight my mum, my sister me and our belongings we had managed to keep were ready to go. We met the others and we all left via the window of one of the downstairs dorms that had been left open by mistake. Once outside I felt very relieved at once. We were half way there already. We waited for what seemed like a lifetime for the guards of the terminal to go off duty.
Now”, shouted one man, I didn’t even know him! We all ran towards the fence at once. I managed to climb over it with ease as I was only a teenage boy after all. I kept on running straight past the terminal. I was very tired by now and only just reached the dark, cold, scary tunnel. The tunnel that would lead to a brighter future. I sat down for a moment. The worst was now over just the tunnel to go. As I looked back I realised my beloved little sister and my mother had been left behind. My life would be nothing without them but did I dare go back for them?